I love being in my continent Africa, most times Nigeria, because I connect soul-wise with my root. I soak in the spiritual and emotional warmth of my fellow Nigerians. I embrace the optimism that is at the core of who we are as Nigerians.
I stride, walk and travel through the towns, cities and streets confidently reassured and affirmed by Nigeria’s strong sense of community and interconnectedness is our identity. In Nigeria you get a strong sense of our collective humanity just by the languid and slow unrushed glance with and from fellow Nigerians.
Now moving to the superficial stuff, my skin glows in Nigeria. With the humidity, I look 15 years younger: given that I am now single, and the most attractive and dynamic men are in Nigeria, this is an added value.
I agree, there is one thing the West has we don’t have in Nigeria and most of Africa: and that is the makeup and skincare shop Sephora, I love Sephora, and this is the one reason I get excited about my periodic visits to New York, Toronto and Ottawa.
Dear Africa; It is no longer okay to take the backseat on the narrative driving our economic growth. We must stop believing and accepting Western-based agenda-driven data and statistics on who is developed, developing etc. If the outcome of Western-style development is a crisis of loneliness, presently ravaging these so-called developed countries, well why would we follow, listen to or accept their terms and definition of what it means to be developed.
Some of the countries that Africans are literally dying to migrate to are some of the top loneliest countries in the world. The World Economic Forum (WEF) last year described this growing crisis as an epidemic. The top loneliest countries in the world are the most developed, these include Sweden, The UK, Japan, Italy, the US, and Canada. Go figure!
The United States Uproar on Foreign Interference in Its Elections: My brothers and sisters from the US, Join the club
I have been following the uproar around alleged foreign interference in the US Presidential elections, gleefully. It is called Elections intervention when it happens to countries in Africa by hte way.
The two countries that could have or have allegedly interfered in the US most recent and upcoming elections are Russia and Ukraine. Interesting that Russia and Ukraine are accused of the same given that they are at loggerheads.
Well back to the issue of Americans uproar regarding foreign interference in the US elections. Not sure yet what the uproar is about?
The issue is that ‘The Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with the goal of harming the campaign of Hillary Clinton, boosting the candidacy of Donald Trump, and increasing political and social discord in the United States.’ (Wikipedia).
What is the problem with this? Is it that foreign countries are allegedly interfering in the United States election? Oh mine, this is unheard of, - something the United States would never do and have never done.
Or, in the case with Ukraine, is it that the US President is using foreign aid as a coercive tool, in withholding 250 million military aid from Ukraine to get the Ukraine’s President to investigate a political opponent? Oh no!
The politicization of Aid? Wow, shocking! This is something the United States has never done and would never do.
Empowering Choices: To build our nations in Africa, We Need to Emulate the Passion Americans Have for Their Country
Empowering Choices: To build our nations in Africa, We Need to Emulate the Passion Americans Have for Their Country
For many years, I have been trying to figure out how the global community has gotten away with the messaging that Africa’s development and growth is premised on it being debt-free, yet western countries who are more in debt are plowing along very well. The top five debtors; the United States, the UK, France, Germany and Netherlands, provide `aid’ to Africa. How are they able to build their nations and give aid while in debt?
Since 2012, the number-one debtor; the United States’ official debt has equaled and/or exceeded its GDP - $21.5 trillion GDP and $22.5 trillion national debt. Besides, the country carry’s $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next decades. But the United States is the largest economy in the world. What makes a country credit or dept worthy, the country’s assets?
Why does the United States have more assets than the Democratic Republic of Congo? Because the world has come to accept this as is or as the way it should be? Do we continue to accept disabling messages, especially when these messages empower others at our expense?
Despite its debt, a homeless crisis, frequent sudden-onset disasters, a nearly 10,000 deaths from gun violence this year alone, Americans tell us that their country is the best in the world, and Americans, most of whom have never left the United States, believe this.
I visited Rome last year in the summer and appreciated the historic beauty of the city. I rented an apartment close to the Colosseum and was surprised by the stench from overflowing open large garbage boxes around the city. But even more surprising to me was that the stench from the open overflowing garbage boxes did not dissuade Italians from appreciating and promoting Rome as a romantic capital of the world. The stench did not stop me from appreciating the beauty of Rome too. Because I had heard of Rome as a historic and beautiful city, I expected to see a historic and beautiful city, and my mind’s eye conjured and pictured one even before I arrived for my vacation.
We must stop building our nations on the prediction of worst-case scenarios by the messaging from international development and international humanitarian systems which is often couched in helping us prevent large scale crises or poverty, these are often driven by external agendas. What will it take for Africans to start recognizing that the grass is not greener in other countries?
What would it take to stem the tide of despair that continues to grow and has been our lot for decades and centuries., Fellow Africans, words create, messaging matter. Let us start by affirming what we have and the resources available to us. I believe it starts in the narrative and the words we speak into our present. This is the spirit and passion required to build a nation. Like in Rome, may the stench of the open garbage not blind us to the beauty of the Colosseum.
As hurricane Dorian bore down on the Bahamas making its way to the United States and amidst the latest gun violence in Texas, second in the last 30 days, the United States President, informed of these crises, went golfing. In less than one year, the United States has recorded nearly 10,000 deaths from gun violence.
As is the case for Africa, the international community or systems should declare a humanitarian crisis from the impact of gun violence in the United States. If 10,000 people had been killed in a year in an African country, the word `genocide’ would be thrown into the reports and reflections from international systems by now. The heads of international and multilateral organizations would be drafting and releasing letters in the public domain calling the government to act.
So far in 2019, nearly 70 people have been reported killed by insurgents in northeast Nigeria, in the same period 10,000 people have been killed through gun violence in the United States, yet international humanitarian assistance is expanding in Nigeria because of the northeast insurgency. Nigeria has accepted plans to expand food assistance and aid across the country. Majority of this food assistance and aid would be coming from the United States where more conditions for an international humanitarian presence exist due to communal gun-violence.
In the last decade, African countries have witnessed a reduction in conflict. The continent has experienced the least amount of sudden-onset disasters than any other parts of the world. Asia and the Americas are increasingly becoming the epicenters of major sudden-onset disasters. We have growing poverty in African countries because of gaps in development and reduced resilience to slow-onset disasters like drought. Yet we have long-standing peacekeeping and growing international humanitarian presences as the main means and ways Africa’s issues are addressed, including messaging and how international systems interact with the continent.
International humanitarian action is required for sudden onset disasters that overwhelm the capacity of national authorities to address. The humanitarian principles of independence in the international humanitarian system are ignited when the national authority is perceived to be aligned to one side, and has interest in the root causes of the humanitarian crisis. Access and protection of vulnerable civilians become the bases of advocating for a protection cluster to be established. These are all elements in the United States gun crisis. So why are the relevant international/multilateral systems not calling for international action as they do for Africa?
Double Standards in Holding Leaders Directly Accountable
Since 2018, one or two Western-international journalists have built their careers on the back of negative reporting on Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed with claims that the Prime Minister has failed to act to curb the invisible `so-called’ IDP crisis in Ethiopia. This is despite the phenomenal achievement of Prime Minister Abiy. Within 4 months of assuming power, Ahmed broadened political, civic liberty and economic spaces and improved the human rights landscape.
The Prime Minister released thousands of political prisoners, journalists, and bloggers; decriminalized opposition groups; invited exiled opposition groups to Ethiopia and started initiatives for peaceful engagement in the reform process. On the legal and policy front, the passing of the new Charities and Societies (CSO) Proclamation on March 2019, as well as other legal reforms, including media and refugee laws, are noteworthy.
The Government Strategy to address Internal Displacement in Ethiopia, which was released in April 2019, is a step in the right direction in a country that has yet to ratify the 2009 Kampala Convention. Globally, the Government of Ethiopia has been praised for achieving gender parity in Cabinet and for ending the state of war with neighboring Eritrea after two decades of diplomatic and armed strife.
I have followed some of these journalists who remain bent on blaming Ethiopia’s Prime Minister for the country’s displacement situation, noting the resounding silence in the context of the homelessness crisis in the UK and the United States, and the humanitarian impact of Europe migrant laws. I am hoping one of these reporters would write an article on the United States’ President’s perceived inaction leading to the death of 10,000 people in the US.
So why this Double Standards?
The naming of crises and solutions in Africa is indicative of the way the continent has been viewed and treated for centuries. The western obsession with naming African leaders and leadership negatively has increasingly become a case of `giving a dog a bad name to justify hanging it’.
The silence in international systems regarding the worsening humanitarian and human rights violations in the `so-called’ developed world is the reason international systems are increasingly ineffective everywhere in the world. If 10,000 people died from gun-related violence in a year in an African country or Muslim country, the United States, Canada, etc. would have issued a travel ban and alert warning its citizens not to travel to those countries by now.
Many African leaders look away from the way conflicts and disasters in their jurisdiction are presented because such reports are often prefixed by the call for funding. But, charity/Humanitarian appeals are announcements to the world of the weakness of a Government. The bigger the amount of funds required, the more a government appears weaker. The more recurring and repeated the appeals are, the weaker the national systems are perceived to be.
Bottom line, African countries, and its citizens must be less receptive of the injustices in the naming and categorization of its events and challenges. Because misnaming is more than mere words. Misnaming creates wrong response or assistance ultimately stalling development and growth in the continent.  http://archive.ipu.org/splz-e/unga08/s1.pdf
Through 2014 and 2015, as the Head of the United Nations Humanitarian Advisory Team, I facilitated consultations between a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) consultant and Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to strengthen food distribution to population affected by insurgency in the northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. While Nigeria had enough food to meet the needs of the affected population, I saw the role of the United Nations World Food Programme at this level necessary because Nigeria’s emergency management authorities had not managed food distribution at the scale brought on by the insurgency.
Nigeria had successfully managed food assistance to the 2.1 million people affected by flood in 2012, but the duration of the displacement caused by the 2012 flood was short-lived while the displacement from the northeast insurgency was longer-term. I also supported WFP to establish the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service which was a valuable service in improving access to the northeast states affected by the insurgency.
I was very hopeful about the collaboration between WFP and Nigeria in 2014 and 2015, as I saw it as an opportunity to strengthen the technical/logistical capacity of Nigeria to lead its humanitarian assistance nationally and regionally. Nigeria provided the food, while the UN WFP consultant provided technical advice.
Today that collaboration and presence have expanded with the World Food Programme upscaling from providing food aid and assistance to northeast Nigeria to the rest of the country. WFP is set to expand its presence in Nigeria – based on a new Country Strategic Plan (CSP) for the next four years (2019-2022). According to WFP Representative and Country Director in Nigeria, “While we remain committed to the crisis response in the north east, this plan provides new and wider entry points for our assistance in Nigeria in the future.”
It Does Not Make Sense
With an estimated 200 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and seventh in the world. The country is the 10th world largest producer of crude oil and achieved middle-income status half a decade ago. With the 9th largest arable land in the world, most of that is still largely untouched, Nigeria should be a global food basket, most certainly a breadbasket for the continent.
Notions and perceptions of food security in Nigeria are rife with contradictions. According to Martin Nwalie in the paradox of food insecurity in Nigeria (2011-2017) `In March 2017 the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) declared that about 7.1 million people in Nigeria are facing acute food insecurity and in need of urgent life-saving and livelihood protection (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2017).’ The research report noted correctly that this position `runs counter to general expectations as the same FAO has initially indicated that food availability is generally satisfactory in Nigeria.’
In farm outputs, Nigeria ranks 6th in the world and first in Africa but presently, Nigeria is `reliant’ on food aid in the Northeast of the country in response to the humanitarian impact of insurgency and is planning to expand to the rest of country.
Given that Nigeria’s current administration has prioritized increasing local food production through discouraging food imports, what would WFP’s countrywide expansion of food aid and assistance mean for increasing food production in Nigeria in the long term? According to researchers James Levinsohn and Margaret McMillan with the National Bureau of Economic Research group, while `Food aid can take several forms, but some portion of all types of food aid (including emergency relief aid) is eventually sold in local markets and thus competes with domestic producers.’
For Yale assistant economics professor Nancy Qian `The delivery of food aid to developing countries seems like an uncontroversial policy -- a straightforward effort that helps the poor and underscores the generosity of donor nations. Yet, economists have long debated the merits of food aid. By increasing the local supply of food, such aid may depress prices and thus undercut the income of rural farmers in the recipient nations, for example; it also may discourage local production. And, since the poor often are concentrated in rural areas, food aid in fact may disproportionately hurt the poor.’
From Bad to Worse
According to the United Nations World Food Programme, (WFP) 2.9 million people are food insecure in the northeast of Nigeria, with 1.9 million displaced in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. 943,000 children under 5 years old are malnourished. In 2017 and 2018, the World Food Programme supported an estimated 1.2 million Nigerians in internally displaced camps in the northeast with food or cash transfer monthly.
To support enhanced food security, nutrition and income generation for families affected by the insurgency the United Nations Food and Agriculture organization provided seed and fertilizer to about 112 500 households (790 000 people) in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. But faced a major funding shortfall of USD 13.9 million requiring the organization to appeal for international funding to support agricultural production for the September 2018 for the three states affected by the insurgency.
Yes, the insurgency in the northeast states of Born, Yobe and Adamawa has displaced at least 1.2 million people. In a region that is potentially a food-basket for the Lake Chad region, this decade long crisis has left an estimated 7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, but the northeast insurgency has not affected the whole country. Yet, rather than Nigeria pushing for a national food security plan, the World Food programme will be scaling up to implement food assistance and aid across Nigeria.
WFP came into Nigeria in 2015 to provide support for logistic of food distribution to Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), then it opened a full-fledged office for the response to the northeast and now has plans to implement its assistance to the whole of the country. The Country Representative for WFP in Nigeria is proud of this expansion noting that WFP is “looking forward to broadening engagement with the Nigerian authorities, the donors and the cooperating partners to restore livelihoods and boost resilience and together reduce the number of people depending on food assistance.” WFP’s country strategy for Nigeria states further: `WFP will maintain its vital lifesaving assistance in Nigeria under the new strategic blueprint, however, it will also focus on self-reliance, resilience and peace building initiatives to enable access to food by all that will help achieve zero hunger.’
The contradiction here is that Nigeria is opening itself up and expanding its reception of food assistance and aid to countrywide level to reduce its citizen’s dependency on food aid and assistance. In other words, WFP will expand its food assistance across Nigeria to reduce Nigeria’s dependency on food assistance?
Do Not Do this Nigeria – Do Not Do this to Nigeria
The United States is the largest donor to food assistance in the world, and it does this through food grown in the United States, and increasingly through cash for flexible programming in recipient countries. Most of what is donated as food aid from the United States happens through the US government purchasing food from America’s farmers and donating this in close consultation with recipient countries, through WFP. Specifically, the United States Department of Agriculture and USAID purchase surplus grain to stabilize prices in domestic (United States) markets, the extra is donated to developing countries as food aid. In times of major sudden onset humanitarian crises this aid is lifesaving for the shortterm, but in any other contexts, food aid takes a major toll on the local recipient agro-sector and economy.
Since 1996, sub-Saharan Africa has been the largest recipient of food aid and the amount of food aid received by sub-Saharan countries have almost doubled since then. Today, the World Food Programme is present in about 83 countries around the world and countries from Africa make up more than half of this amount 43 countries in Africa receive food aid and assistance from the World Food Programme.
Food assistance and aid is not provided unless it is requested by the host government. We note that WFP is operative in Nigeria’s northeast due to the insurgency, so why is the government of Nigeria requesting for food aid and assistance across Nigeria?
Given the predominant notion that food aid is driven by the domestic context – agro-industrial sector - of its top funder, the United States, the expansion of WFP across Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country is deeply disturbing. The fact that Nigeria is opening itself to this is very deeply tragic.
Nigeria prides itself as the giant of Africa and has the highest farm output in the continent. So why would Nigeria want to join the already high number of African countries depending on world food aid and assistance?
Nigeria should Lead Food Security in Africa, Not Entrench the Continent Further into Dependency
The optics regarding Nigeria’s dependency on food aid fundamentally contradicts the image of a `giant of Africa’, and is truly a disempowering message for the rest of the continent. Nigeria should foster and lead the establishment of an African food programme and not be reliant on a world food programme.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari recent directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria to block food importers' requests for foreign currency for food importation in a bid to boost local agriculture in Africa's most populous country, and I think it is the right approach. This move by the President is a continuation of a policy he launched when he came into office in 2015 and banned the use of foreign exchange for import of staple foods like rice. While some have criticized this move as not taking the low capacity of local farmers into consideration, it is interesting to note that the President’s ban on rice importation has increased the domestic production of rice in the country.
What this tells us is that self-reliance, even when enforced, propels growth, while looking at external resources and aids as the main sources of development and economic kick-starters deter economic growth. We need this understanding in our commitment to improving food security in Africa. Food insecurity in Nigeria is a result of de-prioritization of the agro-industrial sector. Relying on food importation or aid fosters the continued undermining of the sector. The expansion of the world food programme across Nigeria undermines Nigeria’s food security aspirations.
Today August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, a day when we advocate for the safety of humanitarian workers around the world. On World Humanitarian Day for 2019, we are focusing on women humanitarians who continue to demonstrate outstanding resourcefulness on the frontline of crises around the world.
For Africa, let World Humanitarian Days be days for unwavering reflection and not for fickle celebrations. Over 80 per cent of international humanitarian action and presence is in Africa.
15 of the 23 countries appealing for humanitarian aid in 2019 are from Africa. There are more international humanitarian footprints in Africa than any other parts of the world. Many of these international humanitarian presences are over 20 years.
Instead of getting out, more African countries are getting into the cycle of international humanitarian presence, Nigeria ‘the giant of Africa’ is the latest, which is truly distressing to me and still a shock to many.
On this World Humanitarian Day, I implore all African countries that have had international humanitarian assistance, presence and action for more than five years to ask why! My wish for this World Humanitarian Day is that international humanitarian assistance would cease to be the main way Africa features in the global arena.
wo critical issues dominate the news in and on Nigeria today. One, popular Nigerian artist Tekno has been called in for questioning by the police and is under investigation over allegation that he was filmed in a glass truck with semi clad girls dancing on poles while he was throwing money at them. Twenty-six-year-old Tekno is refuting accusations by the police that he was shooting the video as an advert for a strip club. Tekno says he was shooting the scene for his music video, which makes sense.
Another major crisis in Nigeria today is that Operatives of a Taskforce in Nigeria’s Niger state on Tuesday shaved the hairs of some youths who were caught wearing `uncomplimentary hairstyles’. According to the news piece, `the youths were apprehended roaming about with funny hairstyles while the officers resolved to shave their hairs after they were interviewed by the officers’.
Nigeria has a population of 200 million people more than half of whom are youth below 30 years, a national unemployment rate that is frankly a national emergency with at least 60 percent of Nigeria’s 200 million living below the poverty line.
Given these dire scenarios above, caused by the theft of the future of over 100 million Nigeria’s youth from the mismanagement and looting of the country’s abundant resources by its older generation, it is deeply disturbing and painful to note that the issue or crises for national authorities in Nigeria at any time would be (1) the `funny’ and `uncomplimentary; hair styles of its youth and (2) the threat of `semi-clad’ young girls dancing on poles.
We may not be able to provide employment and income generating opportunities for our youth, we may have stolen their future, but we must ensure they are not semi-clad while dancing on poles, and they must have the right kind of hairstyles; whatever that may be.
This story and message is by Jeff Galbraith posted on Facebook. The message spoke profoundly to me, hopefully it will speak to you too.
A boat was docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.
A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and... asked how long it took to catch them.
"Not very long" they answered in unison.
"Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?"
The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.
"But what do you do with the rest of your time?"
"We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs.
We have a full life."
The tourist interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."
"And after that?"
"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!!! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."
"How long would that take?"
"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years." replied the tourist.
"And after that?"
"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the tourist, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"
"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the fishermen.
"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."
"With all due respect sir, but that's exactly what we are doing now. So what's the point wasting twenty-five years?" asked the Mexicans.
And the moral of this story is:
Know where you're going in life, you may already be there! Many times in life, money is not everything.
“Live your life before life becomes lifeless”
By Jeff Galbraith
The issue around CoZA and Busola Dakolo is still trending. For details on this issue please read my blog for July 3, 2019.
The voices speaking up to cast doubt on Bukola Dakolo’s allegation of rape against Pastor Biodum Fatoyimbo are getting bolder. One of these voices is that of Omokri, former aide to President Goodluck Jonathan. He says, ‘Dakolo’s narration of how she was raped is not plausible’ and ‘Pastor Fatoyinbo is too ‘sleek to rape an underage girl’.
The case against Pastor Fatoyumbo is alleged. I hear an investigation is underway and we await the conclusion of what transpired, but I am a triumpher from child sexual abuse, so disagree with Omokri’s claims that Busola’s silence after the rape falsifies her story.
I was 17 and accompanied my mum to his relative’s funeral, he was a family friend and had a beautiful car packed in a secured part of the funeral grounds. It was a wake keeping, i.e. overnight funeral service, I was sleepy, so he suggested I could sleep in his car. No one is allowed to sleep in his car, but he would let me because I was a good student and so well behaved, he said.
My mum insisted, everyone around insisted. I refused but everyone thought I was lucky he would let me sleep in his expensive car.
I cannot say at this point ‘no uncle ??? fondles me, makes me grab his. ??? when we are alone.’ How can anyone believe me that the great Uncle ??! is not who he claims he is. He is one kind of person to my family and many, but different to me when he runs into me alone: and when he pops into my house, which he did often as we were neighbours.
I could not tell anyone that each time he came to my house, or asked that I came to help him with an errand at his house or office, he tried all the time to have sex with me. He exposed himself and begged. When I see him with my parents he presented and conducted himself differently. I was confused. Sometimes he winked at me while talking to my parents.
Omokri, it is very possible that Busola would be confused and not be able to speak after the rape: she was in shock and traumatized, this is the normal reaction. You may not know how men behave in sexual settings, I assume.
You have been quoted as saying that Fatoyinbo is too ‘sleek to rape an underage’, what exactly does that mean? What are you inferring? I am certain there are many ways you can support Fatoyinbo without making statements like these.
I am with Busola. Something happened, whatever it was. she was 17, barely 18 years, whatever happened is rape. Sex with an underage is rape, it does not matter whether anyone is inferring ‘it was consensual or not’. Sex with an underage is rape.
I have had a best friend for over 3 decades, we met on her first day to University in Nigeria. She resumed late, and I had arrived three weeks before she did. The first advice I gave her was the different tactics she would need to dodge the sexual advances of the lecturers.
I was barely 16 years old then, but the first lesson I learnt as an undergraduate student in Nigeria was how to avoid sexual advances from my lecturers. I avoided many classes and had low grades because I refused to succumb. I can recall my English lecturer giving me this quote when he ran into me on the corridor; “He that fights and runs away lives to fight another day.’ I had spent months avoiding his classes and refusing to come to his office on campus in the evenings. I had a C in his class.
This continued with different lecturers for the next 4 years of my undergraduate studies, with a lecturer holding back my final grade unless I had sex with him, I did not. It took my father threatening him in his home town including his community and family to get him to release my result and I graduated late. I wonder about those who did not have a father like mine who literarily declared war on the professor. This experience continued as I sought employment in Lagos through the media houses. A few years after graduation, I went on to take my masters in Canada where the experience was different. I enjoyed my two years in University and graduated with excellent grades.
In late 2012, I was posted to Nigeria to take on an appointment as the United Nations Head of the Humanitarian Advisory Team based in Abuja. Given it is perhaps the most popular Church in Abuja, I attended the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) in 2013, the preacher on that Sunday was a woman who spent the 30 plus minutes’ sermon making references to some `horrible people trying to defame the reputation of the senior pastor of COZA, Biodun Fatoyinbo. I was unaware of what or who she was referring to but noted the congregation cheered as she praised Pastor Fatoyimbo and his wife as a bastion of a virtuous Christian family.
I went home to do my research and realized that COZA’s Senior pastor, Biodun Fatoyimbo had been accused of sexual misconduct by a female member of the congregation, Ese Walter, a few weeks before the Sunday I attended COZA. While admitting that her alleged week-long relationship with Fatoyimbo in London was consensual, she felt manipulated and disappointed by the way the church leadership handled the affair when she came forward with her allegations. I never went back to COZA. I was not comfortable with the message being conveyed by the female pastor in castigating a young lady for allegations of sexual misconduct.
The case is different for the recent allegation of rape (any sex with an underage/child is rape) against Fatoyimba by Busola Dakolo, celebrity photographer and wife of popular Nigerian singer Timi Dakolo. According to the Busola Dakolo, Fatoyimba raped her twice many years ago. These allegations occurred when Dakolo was less than 18 years. Fatoyimbo has denied the allegation just as he did in the case of Ese Walter. Nigerians have been reacting in shock to this recent allegation. Many others have come forward accusing other pastors of not speaking up, while others have declared that they are leaving the COZA.
I listened to the full interview by Busola, and as one who has triumphed from child rape, I get her. I really get her. I know the decades-long trauma and how long and hard the healing process is. In time you realize that a bad thing was done to you and you were not the bad thing, but it takes a while, and an amazing husband like to Timi Dakolo.
In all the reactions that have surrounded this rape allegation against COZA senior pastor Fatoyimba, I will like to put the touch light back on the courage of Busola Dakolo and Ese Walters for speaking up. This is not easy in Nigeria. With the outpouring of condemnation in the case of Busola, we are glad to note that the story is different from the reaction when Walters came forward with her allegation.
Perhaps, we are making progress. But we must not limit our outrage to the religious community, especially the churches. Sexual predators and the rape of minors is prevalent in Nigeria. Sex has become a way some Nigerian men display their power, sadly many young girls have come to associate their worth to how and who they accept that power from sexually.
The message this recent rape allegation sends about the quality of our religious leaders is disheartening. The pain Busola endured all these years following the alleged rape is heart-wrenching, but I commend the courage that has been demonstrated by Busola in coming forward. Let us ensure that the boldness and courage of this amazing and beautiful woman are not in vain.
It is time we challenge the normalcy of the sexual abuse, rape, and exploitation of Nigeria’s young women in Nigeria. I used my experience as an undergraduate student in Nigeria, to demonstrate that the crisis of rape, sexual abuse and exploitation is a crisis in Nigeria. Pastor Fatoyimbo is being accused of what is prevalent and has been accepted as normal in Nigeria: sex with underage women, which is by itself rape whether `consent’ is perceived or not. This is the salient message here. If Fatoyimbo is guilty, he is part of a crisis in the country.
Busola has started a movement, one that must be amplified, we must talk about sexual abuse, rape and start the healing process for our people.